Is this life all there is? Are heaven and hell real? Or are they simply imaginary places conjured up in the minds of religious people? If real, can we be certain of our destiny? The Bible is clear that each of us is an eternal soul that will exist eternally in one of only two places – heaven or hell. Heaven is the dwelling place of God, a place of perfect righteousness where sin and all of its ugly consequences of pain, suffering and death have been banished. Heaven is a place of beauty, light, harmony, love and joy. The alternative is hell and ultimately the Lake of Fire, a place of darkness, suffering, weeping and utter hopelessness, where souls are separated from God and all that is good.
Given such extreme consequences, it is imperative that you be certain of heaven. But is it possible to be certain of heaven? Does our destination depend on our good works or our baptism or the church we join? What exactly are the qualifications for entrance into heaven? Only God’s Word, the Bible, can provide the correct answers.
The Bible teaches us that our default destiny is not heaven but hell. Born with a sinful nature, each of us has turned away from God. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).1 The Lord Jesus told Nicodemus, the most religious man of his day, that “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Joh 3:3). Even more alarming is the truth that we cannot do anything to make ourselves right with God. “By works of the law no human being will be justified” (Rom 3:20). The popular idea that God will weigh our good deeds against our bad deeds to determine entrance into heaven is not found in the Bible.
The good news is that God recognized our helpless condition and sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Savior. Jesus was fully God and yet took upon Himself real humanity so that He could die on a cross under the judgment of God for our sins. “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1Pe 3:18). The death of Jesus satisfied God’s righteous wrath against our sin. God demonstrated His satisfaction by raising Jesus from the dead. “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1Jn 2:2). God now offers eternal life free to whomever will trust Jesus Christ as his or her Savior. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” (Joh 3:36).
It is possible to be certain of heaven because entrance into heaven does not depend on anything we do. Certainty of heaven is based on faith in the finished work of Christ. Those who trust Jesus receive as a present possession eternal life which cannot be taken away. Jesus said, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish” (10:28). Those who give up depending on their own works and trust Jesus as their Savior are guaranteed to be in heaven. Trust Christ today and you can be certain of heaven.
1 Bible quotations in this article are from the ESV.